Batman & Robin

1997, Movie, PG-13, 125 mins

Review

BATMAN & ROBIN
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A high-rent jumble sale of smarty-pants pop-culture gags and expensive tchochtkes. Batman (George Clooney) invites butler Alfred's (Michael Gough) schoolgirl niece (Alicia Silverstone) to stay at Wayne Mansion: Little does he know that he's gaining a Batgirl to complement fledgling sidekick Robin (Chris O'Donnell). The extra hands arrive none too soon: Gotham City is under siege by coldhearted Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who wants to plunge the town into a new ice age, along with eco-terrorist Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and her toxin-bloated aide-de-camp Bane (Jeep Swenson). She wants to clear the world of warm- blooded creatures so her beloved plants can reclaim the top of the food chain. Holy hollyhocks! Director Joel Schumacher's second entry in the Bat-franchise is crammed full of ham-fisted hommages -- METROPOLIS, CASABLANCA, THE BLACK CAT, BLONDE VENUS, THE WIZARD OF OZ, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, SOLARBABIES, THE WARRIORS and Mexican wrestling movies are all grist for the mill -- and the whole cumbersome enterprise is driven by the "Wouldn't it be cool?" factor. It's a gee-whiz kiddie movie imagined by pervy grown-ups who get a giggle out of mixing bloodless fight scenes with close-ups of rubber-wrapped butts and baskets. Thurman's Ivy is a vision in green, second-skin latex and really high heels (though her Mae West line readings are forced) and Schwarzenegger's Freeze is a high-water mark in marketing synergy: His silver full-body suit makes him look exactly like a plastic action figure. The neat-o stakes keep getting higher, but there's no overriding idea behind it all: Why does the video simulation of Alfred stammer a la Max Headroom? Because... well, just because. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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